June 10, 1968. Olympic of Rome. Italy is proclaimed European champion for the first and only time in its history. It will be on July 11, 2021 when the ‘azzurri’ will try to achieve the title for the second time after watching the 2018 World Cup in Russia on television. The Italian team, under Roberto Mancini, has managed to reach the final based on reinventing herself, despite the fact that in the semifinals, against Spain on Tuesday, without the injured Leonardo Spinazzola, she returned to her roots with suffering.
Italy beat Red on penalties (4-2, after 1-1) to finally turn the page after failing to qualify in Russia 2018, for the first time in 60 years, for a World Cup. After that failure, Mancini arrived to replace Gian Piero Ventura and rebuild the ‘azzurra squad’.
“He is a man of few words, but he has created a good group. With great serenity, he transmits calm and confidence ”, said Giorgio Chiellini about Mancini just before the European Championship.
Faced with the traditional defensive game of Italy, Mancini has based his game on the possession of the ball and the construction in the center of the field, in charge of Jorginho and Marco Verratti, with ambition of permanent mobility and attack.
The revolution paid off: ten victories in ten games in the qualifying phase for the European Championship and a move to the final phase of the Nations League (to be played in October).
The figures are clear: against Spain Italy chained their 33rd match without losing (27 wins, 6 draws), breaking a record that had been held for 80 years.
But, when Italy suffered, as against Austria (2-1 after extra time) and especially on Tuesday against a dominating Spain, which took the ball, Italy resorted to two usual weapons: undeniable combativeness and solidarity . The new Italy returned to what it was when it won the World Cups in Spain 1982 and Germany 2006, with great cohesion.
Mancini has called up 77 players in his 3 years in office. He has debuted 35 players. He has opted for footballers who play little at his club, such as Emerson (Chelsea) or Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus). Italy feels that whatever happens on Sunday, this Euro is the one of its rebirth.